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Trump backs anti-lockdown protests after clashing with New York governor Andrew Cuomo

Trump tweeted of Cuomo: “Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!”
Apr 17th 2020, 10:41 PM 106,715 147

Updated Apr 18th 2020, 7:30 AM

US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has targeted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in a series of tweets, where they clashed over testing capacity.

This took place after Trump appeared to back protests against lockdown restrictions, by tweeting “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

Trump then launched into an attack on Cuomo, who has been vocal in his criticism of the federal government’s meagre response to the Covid-19 outbreak in the US. 

“Governor Cuomo should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining’,” Trump said today, in a string of tweets targetting the Democat governor who has accused him of “passing the buck”.

Trump continued on Twitter:

Get out there and get the job done. Stop talking! We built you thousands of hospital beds that you didn’t need or use, gave large numbers of Ventilators that you should have had, and helped you with testing that you should be doing.
We have given New York far more money, help and equipment than any other state, by far, & these great men & women who did the job never hear you say thanks. Your numbers are not good. Less talk and more action!
Cuomo ridiculously wanted “40 thousand Ventilators”. We gave him a small fraction of that number, and it was plenty. State should have had them in stockpile!

In an equally extraordinary response, Governor Cuomo hit back at Trump in a televised address:

Tweet by @CBS Evening News Source: CBS Evening News/Twitter

I said the one issue we need help with is testing. He said 11 times, ‘I don’t want to get involved in testing. It’s too complicated and it’s too hard.’
I know it’s too complicated and too hard. That’s why we need you to help. I can’t do an international supply chain.

“None of us have done enough. We haven’t. Because it’s not over. So yes, thank you for Javits. Thank you for the US-Navy ship Comfort. But it’s not over. We have a lot more to do. And no one can take the posture, ‘well, just say thank you for what I’ve done and I’m now out.’I've done my part.”

Cuomo also said that it was always up to the state governors to make decisions on lockdowns, as part of the US constitution, adding: “What are you going to grant me what the constitution gave me before you were born? It’s called the 10th Amendment.”

virus-outbreak-new-york New Yorker Clarence McCollum wears a mask and plastic shield. Source: Mark Lennihan

New York and New Jersey, which are at the heart of the northeast corridor, have been hardest hit by the virus

More than 11,500 people have died in New York; Cuomo has extended a shutdown order for another month, until 15 May.

Tweet by @CBS Evening News Source: CBS Evening News/Twitter

The heated tit-for-tat came as a grassroots anti-lockdown movement emerged in the US, with strong links to Trump’s rightwing base.

Washington’s Democrat governor Jay Inslee said Trump’s tweets about “liberating” states put millions of Americans at risk of contracting Covid-19.

“His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence,” Inslee said.

“We’ve seen it before. The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies even while his own administration says the virus is real and is deadly.”

Democratic Virginia governor Ralph Northam said he and his staff were focused not on the president’s tweets but on fighting a “biological war”.

“I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars,” said Northam, who is a medical doctor.

“I will continue to make sure that I do everything that I can to keep Virginians safe and to save lives.”

On Wednesday, a large protest erupted in the Michigan capital, Lansing. Demonstrators clogged streets with cars, while a group paraded on the steps of the legislature.

Even in largely rural states with small populations, such as Wyoming, Maine and South Dakota, governors said they were not anxious to quickly resume business as usual.

However, the University of Washington, whose computer models have frequently been cited by health officials at White House briefings, on Friday predicted Vermont, West Virginia, Montana and Hawaii could open as early as May 4 if they restrict large gatherings, test widely and quarantine the contacts of people who test positive.

Iowa, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Utah, Arkansas and Oklahoma, however, are among states that would need to wait until mid-June or early July, the institute said.

The official death toll in the US is nearing 35,000, with some 685,000 confirmed infections. Some 22 million people have lost their jobs.

With Trump standing back, this means the onus on when to lift lockdowns will rest with people like Governor Cuomo, as well as Ron DeSantis in Florida, Gavin Newsom in California, and Greg Abbott in Texas.

Expect Trump to make political hay out of the tensions in Democratic-led states as a result: the governors of the three states he called for to be “LIBERATED” all have Democrat governors. 

- with reporting from AFP

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Gráinne Ní Aodha

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